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Posts for August, 2013

Congratulations Kiwis

Timothy Kincaid

August 19th, 2013

In April, the New Zealand Parliament passed marriage equality. Today it came into effect.

Congratulations, Kiwis, and here’s to the joy that you and your nation are celebrating.



Kiwi one-upmanship

Timothy Kincaid

July 19th, 2013

Australia and New Zealand are friendly rivals, a bit like brothers who are ever competing with each other. So, naturally, when New Zealand achieved marriage equality laws, well

And on August 19, 2013, Paul McCarthy and Trent Kandler are going to be the very first Aussie gay couple to be wed in New Zealand under the Marriage Amendment Act which will also take effect that very same day.

The couple had won the Tourism New Zealand promotion.

Tim Burgess, Tourism New Zealand’s General Manager said that, “Trent and Paul’s entry was unique, inspiring and had a distinct Kiwi flavor. Their affection for New Zealand shone through and we immediately knew that we had the perfect Australian couple to come and tie the knot in New Zealand. We are looking forward to helping Trent and Paul “Make History” in Wellington next month, it is going to be a wonderful celebration.

UNLOCK THE DOORS!

Rob Tisinai

April 17th, 2013

Today Jim posted a video of the New Zealand Parliament breaking into song after passing a marriage equality bill. My favorite part, though, is just before the song: right after the vote is revealed, the speaker declares:

Unlock the doors. UNLOCK THE DOORS!

The little procedural phrase sounded in my ears like an exultation. It would be a great name for book, blog, or movie.

And I may just have it printed on a t-shirt.

New Zealand Approves Marriage Equality

Jim Burroway

April 17th, 2013

The New Zealand Parliament passed a bill granting marriage equality by a vote of 77-44. The vote tally was the same for the third reading as it was for the second, although two MP’s swapped votes. Despite pleas from the acting speaker for order in the House before announcing the tally, visitors in the gallery broke out in spontaneous singing of “Pokarekare Ana,” a traditional Maori love song. Watch:

Before the house took its vote, MP Maurice Williamson (National-Pakuranga) gave this rousing speech supporting the bill:

Green MP Kevin Hague told reporters that he expected Australians to travel to New Zealand to get married. “Hopefully it will push the Aussies into doing something.” New Zealand becomes the thirteenth country to provide marriage equality for same-sex partners. France is expected to complete its passage of a same-sex marriage bill next week. The countries which currently provide marriage equality are:

  1. Netherlands (2001)
  2. Belgium (2003)
  3. Spain (2005)
  4. Canada (2005)
  5. South Africa (2006)
  6. Norway (2009)
  7. Sweden (2009)
  8. Portugal (2010)
  9. Iceland (2010)
  10. Argentina (2010)
  11. Denmark (2012)
  12. Uruguay (2013)
  13. New Zealand (2013)

Same-sex marriage is also legal in parts of Brazil, Mexico, and in nine U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and three Native American tribes.

At some point tonight, New Zealand.

Timothy Kincaid

April 17th, 2013

At some point tonight, New Zealand’s parliament is scheduled to enact marriage equality. Following closely on the heels of Uruguay, it makes tis month almost breath-taking.

But while it is indeed momentous, as Green Party MP Kevin Hague reminds us, in many ways it is not.

“People will not marry their pets. Ministers will not be thrown into prison. People will not be prevented from using the words husband and wife or bride and bridegroom. Teachers won’t have any restrictions on what they can teach. And opposition which is based on these fears will melt away.”

It is unique in that its a day when a nation’s citizens become more equal. And yet it’s a day in which most will not be impacted in the way they fear. Yes it’s a glorious day for all Kiwis, both those who will celebrate change and those who are about to be disemburdened from fears that are insubstantial.

New Zealand Moves Close To Marriage Equality

Jim Burroway

March 13th, 2013

The New Zealand Parliament approved a marriage equality bill 77-44 in the second of three votes yesterday:

Labour MP Louisa Wall’s bill passed by 77 votes to 44 votes late last night in front of a near-full public gallery, a drop in support of 3 votes from the first reading. Cabinet ministers Gerry Brownlee, Jonathan Coleman and Murray McCully and National MP Ian McKelvie voted against after initially supporting the bill. An attempt by New Zealand First leader Winston Peters to delay the law change until a referendum could be held at the 2014 general election was voted down by a margin of 83 votes to 33.

The debate surrounding the bill apparently has been acrimonious:

National MP Chester Borrows, who described himself as a conservative Christian, slammed the “abhorrent” way that various groups – including churches – had conducted themselves in the debate. Mr Borrows opposed the bill because he did not believe that changing the definition of marriage helped achieve equality in long-term relationships. But he stressed that the discussion had brought out the worst in Christian communities, saying that some colleagues had changed their opposing vote because of the hatred expressed by some opponents.

And now from the Mormons in New Zealand

Timothy Kincaid

January 29th, 2013

Like much of the planet this week, marriage is being debated in New Zealand. Here’s a bit from that front:

Meanwhile, Michael Roberts of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints told the committee that redefining marriage will have a negative impact on families, children and society.

Green MP Kevin Hague put it to Mr Roberts that the Mormon church has already redefined marriage by banning its former practice of polygamy.

After a lengthy pause, Mr Roberts said the ban resulted from the law “asking us to reconsider that”.

NZ legislature overwhelmingly votes for marriage

Timothy Kincaid

August 29th, 2012

In the first of three votes, the New Zealand parliament has overwhelmingly voted for marriage. (NZTV)

Labour MP Louisa Wall’s Marriage Amendment Bill was passed with 78 in favour and 40 against.

This margin suggests that there is a quite good chance that the bill will make it through all three readings to become law before the end of the year.

The motivation for the action is fascinating, and reflects comments I’ve read in a number of foreign news sources in the past several month. (WaPo)

The proposed changes here can be directly traced back to Obama’s declaration in May in support of gay marriage. That prompted center-right Prime Minister John Key to break his long silence on the issue by saying he was “not personally opposed” to the idea. Then lawmaker Louisa Wall, from the opposition Labour Party, put forward a bill she had previously drafted.

“If I’m really honest, I think the catalyst was around Obama’s announcement, and then obviously our prime minister came out very early in support, as did the leader of my party, David Shearer,” Wall told The Associated Press. “The timing was right.”

It may well turn out that the President’s evolution on marriage may impact equality globally sooner than it does locally.

NZ Prime Minister supports equality

Timothy Kincaid

July 31st, 2012

Pinknews

New Zealand’s prime minister, John Key, has said he will support a member’s bill selected for a vote in the House of Representatives that would legalise marriages between two people of the same sex.

Key will allow a conscience vote, a move which will allow members of his center-right National Party to join Green, Mauri, Mana, United Future, and most of Labour in supporting the bill and which increases the odds of passage.

Next marriage nation: New Zealand a contender

Timothy Kincaid

July 27th, 2012

It’s a fairly good bet that this year will see at least one additional country join the nations that fully respect the relationships of their gay citizens. But who it will be still remains a mystery.

One dark horse that has come up from behind is New Zealand. Somewhat unexpectedly, the island nation off of Australia, will be addressing the issue as the result of the whims of fate.

New Zealand lawmakers will hold a vote on allowing gay marriage after a proposal to change the law was listed on parliament’s agenda on Thursday.

The plan, which was drawn at random from a ballot of proposals submitted by lawmakers, would alter the 1955 Marriage Act to say marriage is a union of two people regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.

The exact timing of the vote has not been determined but it is likely to be within the next two months.

And while a high degree of “barefaced weaselling” is to be expected, the current vote count looks promising. The population is supportive and the bill is nearly certain to at least pass the first vote and get debate though the Catholic Church is, unsurprisingly, opposed. (Interesting longblog here)

Exodus Denied Tax-Exempt Status in New Zealand

Jim Burroway

August 30th, 2010

A chapter of the Exodus Global Alliance was denied “charitable status” by New Zealand’s Charities Commission, denying a local Christian Trust’s exemption from paying income taxes. Before this ruling, Exodus had enjoyed its tax-exempt status for about a decade.

Citing guidelines and policies among professional psychiatric, psychological and counseling organizations, the Charities Commision declared that Exodus was not performing a legitimate public benefit because homosexuality was not a mental disorder and did not need curing. The commission also  noted the American Psychological Association’s report which found that there was little scientific evidence that homosexuality could be “cured.”

You can read the commission’s decision here (PDF: 809KB/15 pages)

New Zealand researcher reports correlation between sexual behavior and childhood abuse

Timothy Kincaid

July 22nd, 2010

The New Zealand Mental Health Survey was a project between 2002 and 2003 in which 13,000 New Zealand residents were given face to face interviews on a number of subjects involving mental health. Dr. Elisabeth Wells of the University of Otago reviewed the data collected and announced that there was a correlation between childhood trauma and homsexuality (Otago Daily Times)

Information extracted from 13,000 face-to-face interviews clearly showed those with same-sexual or bisexual orientation were more likely to have experienced negative events in childhood, Associate Prof Elisabeth Wells said yesterday.

People who had experienced sexual abuse as children were three times more likely to identity themselves as homosexual or bisexual than those who had not experienced abuse, she said. Also, the more adverse events someone experienced in childhood, the more likely they were to belong to one of the “non-exclusively heterosexual” groups.

We can expect anti-gay activists to immediately jump to Dr. Well’s conclusions and declare them evidence that sexual orientation is a product of environment (and therefore – by some strange logic – gay people are not worthy of civil equality).

I have not yet obtained Dr. Well’s study. But sight unseen there are glaring problems with this research.

First, we should consider the sample quality: (NZHerald)

The study questioned 13,000 people aged 16 and over on mental health issues. Ninety-eight per cent of the respondents identified themselves as heterosexual, compared to 0.8 per cent identifying themselves as homosexual, 0.6 per cent as bisexual and 0.3 per cent as “something else”.

Experiencing a same-sex encounter was more common than identifying as either homosexual or bisexual. Nearly 2 per cent reported they had been in a same-sex relationship, while another 3 per cent reported having experienced a same-sex encounter.

Either New Zealanders are unlike others samples of humanity or there is something wrong with the way in which the original study was conducted. By comparison, the US’ CDC report in 2005 found that 90.2% of US men identified as heterosexual, 2.3% as gay, 1.8% as bisexual, 3.9% as something else, and 1.8% didn’t answer the question.

Zero point eight percent is way outside the normal range of responses for sexual identity. This is such an outlier that it is difficult to give credibility to any conclusions drawn from this sample. Basically, of the 13,000 participants, only about 100 were homosexual and 75-80 we bisexual.

And even more oddly, it appears that more people have “been in a same-sex relationship” than the total combined homosexual and bisexual population. This seems peculiar and suggests that perhaps there is confusion either in the questions or in the way in which the survey was conducted.

Secondly, at least according to news reports Dr. Wells lumped anyone with any same-sex experience into one category regardless of identity or extent of sexual history.

The New Zealand Mental Health Survey by the University of Otago in Christchurch has found that people identifying themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or having had same-sex encounters are more likely to have experienced events such as sexual assault and violence in the home as children.

This seems to be a particularly poor way of identifying specific populations. Unless, of course, one is viewing any same-sex experience to be a troublesome act and you’re seeking to look for traits of sexual nonconformity.

Third, the study is based on face to face questioning. Researchers have long known that controversial or sensitive information is seldom accurately collected by this methodology. (Dominion Post)

Other researchers and gay rights advocates took issue with the study’s findings. Green MP Kevin Hague, who is gay and a former director of the Aids Foundation, said the research should be taken “with an enormous grain of salt”. “I think it’s pretty unlikely that there is any underlying real association.”

The more likely explanation was the way the study was done. “Respondents who are prepared to talk to interviewers about what may be the sensitive subject of their same-sex experience or attraction may also be the most likely to be prepared to talk to the interviewers about other sensitive subjects – in this case traumatic childhood experiences.”

Fourth, Dr. Well’s appears to have an understanding of sexual orientation that is non-conventional – one might even say that it closely mirrors that of another age, one which is seldom currently found outside of anti-gay activism.

“I suspect there might be some gay and lesbian people who will be indignant, but it is not my intention to anger them. You could say that if someone was sexually abused as a child, chooses to live as a homosexual and lives life well, then that is not a bad thing. But if they are living a homosexual life and regretting it, that is another matter.”

Dr. Wells may be speaking out of ignorance; she simply may not have read the literature on the subject before releasing her opinions. Or perhaps she is seeing her work as thwarting collected wisdom and research and instead justifying or advocating for reorientation therapy.

It’s hard to tell.

Finally, Dr. Wells appears to be taking leaps.

When a responsible researcher finds a correlation, they report a correlation. They may speculate as to the reasons, but they do not announce causation or linkage, association and they never conclude more than their study finds. Sadly not all researchers are responsible.

Again, we are going from news reports which may not be accurate:

She said there was no way of knowing from her study why there was a link between negative events in childhood and same-sex sexual orientation.

No. They was a correlation. Linkage assumes that the correlation is tied to causation, something that was not studied by Dr. Wells and about which she cannot speak.

People who either identify themselves as homosexual or bisexual, or have had a same-sex encounter or relationship, tend to come from more disturbed backgrounds,” Associate Professor Wells said.

That is simply not consistent with her findings. (stuff.nz)

Of those who reported sexual abuse or rape in childhood, about 15 per cent were non-heterosexual. Of those who had not had these experiences only five per cent were non-heterosexual.

Even if 15% of her sample came from a more disturbed background, the majority did not. It would not be truthful to say that gay/bi/encounter people “tend” to come from such a background when the majority did not.

Conclusion:

I do not know if there is any validity to this study. I’ve requested the study and either Jim or myself will look it over. We will gladly give Dr. Wells any benefit of the doubt and should any of my presumptions based on news reports turn out to be hasty, we’ll gladly correct the situation. However, there are so many red flags all over the place that it seems unlikely.

But Dr. Wells did say something with which I agree.

Dr Wells said: “I don’t quite see how our findings feed into gay-bashing, although maybe I underestimate the ability of people to twist certain things.”

Yes, Dr. Wells, you have vastly underestimated the ability of anti-gay people to twist research to support what they wish to believe. And that was unfortunate.

Guess Who Else Isn’t On Board With the U.N. Resolution to Decriminalize Homosexuality

Jim Burroway

December 5th, 2008

Mark, at Slapped Upside the Head, has a good take on yesterday’s news that the Vatican is opposing a U.N. resolution calling on member states to rescind laws outlawing homosexuality — which in some countries includes the death penalty. We discussed the Vatican’s intrinsically disordered logic here. Mark has his own take here.

There are a lot of countries which have already signed on to the declaration, including: Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Uruguay, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Ukraine, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Those last three are rather surprising. Also surprising co-sponsors are three African countries: Gabon, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau. That’s quite an impressive list.

So, who’s missing? Well, let’s see. Oh look: the United States and Australia.

Marriage Rights Around the World

Timothy Kincaid

May 15th, 2008

The following countries offer some form of recognition to same-sex couples:

Marriage

Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, United States (Massachusetts, California)

Civil Unions

New Zealand, Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul), Argentina (Buenos Aires, Rio Negro), Mexico (Coahuila), Uruguay, United States (Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey)

Registered Partnership or Domestic Partnership

Denmark, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Finland, Luxembourg, , Slovenia, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Italy (City of Padua), Switzerland, Hungary, Australia (Tasmania), United States (Maine, Washington, Oregon)

Other Methods of Limited Recognition

France (PACS), Germany (Life Partnership), Croatia (Law of Same-Sex Relationships), Andorra (Stable Union of a Couple), Mexico (Mexico City – PACS), Colombia (Common-law marriage inheritance rights), Israel (Limited recognition of foreign legal arrangements), United States (Hawaii – Reciprocal Benefits; New York – recognition of out-of-state legal marriages)

Although recognition is in a rapid state of change, this is my best understanding of the current rights provided. Several nations are in the process of adding or revising recognition.

New Zealand may get Pro-Gay Episcopal Bishop

Timothy Kincaid

February 25th, 2008

nz.jpgIf the Lord of the Rings movies are anything to go by, New Zealand is a lovely country. And as an ally of the United States, English speaking, and having had civil unions since 2004, (not to mention giving us Lucy Lawless), the Kiwis would seem to be a people that would make me feel welcome.

Now it seems like they may be taking a further step in welcoming gay and gay-friendly travelers. Stuff.co is reporting that the Anglican Church (New Zealand’s largest church) may be selecting a pro-gay Canadian as Bishop of Christchurch.

A Canadian woman bishop who has signaled support for blessing gay marriages is being confirmed as Christchurch’s new Anglican bishop.

Maybe those who were considering vacationing in Jamaica can instead think of a less hostile destination.